I had a wonderful Sunday. I gotta say, I truly love my church. I was an usher yesterday, but you know in our church the ushers seldom actually usher (show people to their seats). Most of the time we're standing in the back of the sanctuary, watching a crowd of people worship the Lord. We are an "enthusiastic" bunch (some might even say, "happy-clappy"), and I guess I mean that word both in its modern sense and the Greek sense (en theos) also. Watching from the back is almost like watching the leaves on a tree in order to see "which way the wind is blowing." But in this case, it's the wind of the Spirit.
Speaking of which, another thing I value is the Charismatic tradition, with all its faults, its mis-steps and excesses. I still believe that the gifts of the Spirit represent a Spiritual deposit for the sake of the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom in the world. God is sovereign, and yet He calls us to participate in His Kingdom work by a great variety of means, not excluding, in my opinion, the Spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 (among other places). My sense is that the burden of the Charismatic movement is to keep the Scriptures foremost, to test everything against them, and not to over-value any particular gift. I think that C. J. Mahaney's Sovereign Grace Ministries, for example, seems to get the balance right.
Last night my good friend, Todd, came over and we spent quite a bit of time praying for the church, as well as for many people we know. It was a sweet time, and it just sort of reminded me that prayer is really the heart and soul of the Christian life. The great Andrew Murray says it is the Christian's highest calling. To which I laconically reply, "No doubt."
Another fundamental piece of the Christian life is repentance. Without it, there is just no possibility of growth in Godliness. The call to repentance is simply missing from much preaching these days. I just said I love my church, and I also love and respect my pastor, but I've got to say that repentance is a word seldom heard there. If you stop and think about it, much of the Bible is in essence God's earnest cry to his people, "Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is near." I only mention this because Mike at To Be Least is living it and blogging it. You should go over there right now and give that boy some encouragement.
Finally, you can't mention repentance without also mentioning forgiveness. And you can't mention either of these two things without coming back to "the one thing needful" . . . the cross of Christ. Milton at Transforming Sermons, quoting James White, brings all this together beautifully and succinctly. A valuable service. Thanks, Milton.